Tag Archives: greatness

The Next Step

I’m stealing the bit of wisdom coming to you in this post from a homily I heard while attending mass at school about a month or so ago.  All succeeding praises and admiration will defer to Fr. Gerard (and of course the Holy Spirit speaking through him).

I have said it before and I will say it again, the future can be a scary thing.  It sometimes is so stressful to address all of the questions the future poses.  What will I do to earn a living?  Will I love my job or will I just do it to make some money—or both?  Even worse, sometimes we think we have everything planned out for the next five years, and then a terrible thing happens to take it away from us.  Maybe we didn’t get that deal we were hoping for at work, or maybe we lost our job completely.  Maybe that Ms. Perfect you had your heart set on marrying in a few years decides she just wants to be friends (ouch!). Whatever the reason, life always finds a way to serve us up a heaping plate of uncertainty.  If you’re anything like me, you often find this accompanied by a considerably-sized side dish of anxiety, just to make things interesting.

Unlike fear, which has the ability to motivate us to take action when needed, anxiety is something that brings with it unnecessary stress.  Planning for the future is important and sometimes necessarily stressful; but there is a reason for the saying “one step at a time.”  Just like those of us with shorter legs do not have the option of leaping up staircases five steps at a time, so too do us limited human beings not always have the luxury of seeing the next few steps in our life.  Even if we think we can plan out every detail of the future, sometimes life just decides to put a big clumsy kid in front of us to block our view or knock us down mid-ascent.  The cool thing about staircases is that you don’t need to get from step 1 to step 5 in one swift motion.  All you need to do is focus on the step in front of you.

As always, prayer is powerful.  Pray often and stay close to God; live always in His plan.  If you have the confidence you are living the life He has laid out for you, you can have certainty that things will work out for the best, even if at the moment you can’t see how.

Are You Who You Want to Be?

Me and One of My Many Adorable Nieces 🙂

 

From the time we are in kindergarten, we are often told that we can be whatever we want to be, that we can do whatever we want to do, so long as we set our minds to it.  Accordingly, we start to dream.  We start to dream big.  The world is our oyster!  We can do anything we want to do!

Unfortunately, I think that sometimes having this drilled into our minds over and over again has a little bit of a downside.  As a little kid, hearing “You can do anything you want so long as you set your mind to it” is meant to inspire us to dreams of greatness.  Yet in order to hold onto the “options” of doing anything we want, we often end up acting pretty mediocre.  The fact of the matter is that no one can do everything, which means that at some point we have to stop thinking we can do anything and just decide on doing something.

This is scary to a lot of people in my generation.  We love to “keep our options open.”  In college, we put off declaring a major until the very last second.  Then, we simply choose the most generic one that we can do most anything with.  We think that by acting this way, we will be more free in the future to do whatever we want to do, when in reality nothing could be further from the truth.

No one needs to hear this lesson more than me.  I don’t even like to make the decision on what restaurant to eat at for dinner, let alone one that involves something as important and big as my future.  For a while, I thought that by doing this I was protecting myself from making a wrong decision, but I was really just hurting myself even more by not allowing myself to develop opinions of my own.

I have such admiration for those that have the courage to make decisions, even if they end up being the wrong ones. It’s not that I think we should be rash or careless in our decision making.  Of course we should weigh the options and never do anything that goes against what we know is right.  What I now know is that when it comes down to it, you can learn a lot more about where you want to be by taking a wrong turn than by standing still.

Missed Opportunites

We often hear it said that it is never too late to start over.  Well, not to be a negative Nancy, but apart from looking nice on a motivational poster or as something “inspiring” to post on a Facebook status, this saying doesn’t always have the most practical meaning for my life.  I’m only 21 years old and sometimes (and I know I’m not alone in this) I just get the feeling that I’ve missed it.  I’ve missed that one golden opportunity I was born for to really do something with my life.  I’ve missed the chance to be who I was born to be.

There are a number of reasons we can point to for why we “missed out” on who we think we were supposed to be.  We were too busy daydreaming in class.  We were too insecure to actually speak up and be apart of that project we could have worked on.  Or maybe we made poor choice after poor choice and were so far off of the path we needed to be on by the time our golden opportunity came around that we stood no real chance of grabbing it.

I thought it appropriate to post about this today because today is Holy Thursday—3 days before Easter.  Today begins the commemoration of the greatest story of victory over tragedy in human history.  In fact my inspiration for writing this post came from one of my favorite lines from the liturgy of my favorite mass of the year, the Easter Vigil:

O Happy Fault
O Necessary Sin of Adam,
Which gained for us so great a Redeemer!

As a basic part of our human nature, it is not at all common to refer to faults as “happy.”  Mistakes shouldn’t be “happy,” and we often wish they weren’t at all “necessary” either.  But when it comes to the plan for our lives, God knows what He is doing.  It’s not that we shouldn’t try always to do the right thing, or that we should look at our mistakes as no big deal.  To understand it that way would be to miss the point.

The point is that when we do make mistakes, we aren’t supposed to collapse to the ground in despair and tell ourselves we will never amount to anything.  We are to look to Adam, whose mistake was so great that he brought sin upon all of humanity.  Look what God was able to do through that sin in giving us His Son, Jesus.  Now imagine what God can do with the mistakes and “missed opportunities” in your life.

…Whoever said we only get one golden opportunity anyway?

This May Make You Uncomfortable…

Everyone knows the couch potato doing nothing with his life has a problem. But I want to talk about someone a little closer to home. Let’s talk about that student in high school with mostly A’s and a few B’s:

On the surface, this student looks like she is doing great. Her grades are above average and she is on track to get into a decent four-year college. When she gets in, she’ll continue to do well in her classes, and maybe when she graduates she will use her bachelor’s degree to get a decently paying job to support herself. She’ll move out on her own and, aside from maybe getting a few promotions and pay raises every now and again, for the most part, that will be that.

Isn’t that, more or less, the kind of life we are all working towards?

I write about that girl because for most of my life I think that girl has been me. I’m pretty good at school and I get good grades. It’s not that it comes without hard work; but I don’t mind the work so much because it yields a result that I am comfortable with.

But for me, comfort alone has never really felt like enough. Maybe you can relate…

I think the answer to why it never feels like enough has something to do with the fact that no 5-year-old, when asked what they want to be when they grow up, answers, “I just want to support myself,” or, “I just want to get good grades in school.” Yet for some reason, as we grow older, it becomes more and more acceptable in our minds to settle for this answer. We settle for comfort as opposed to greatness.

It’s not that achieving comfort is easy or that it requires no work. It’s not easy to make it through four years of college, or to stick with a job and get promoted. It takes hard work and dedication. So why is that not enough?

The truth is that deep down, whether we are brave enough to admit it or not, we all have a desire to be great—to somehow use our life to make a difference in the world, and not just “get by”. That desire is not meant to go unanswered. You may not have the most important career in the world, but no matter what you do, that call to greatness never goes away.

Greatness is more difficult than comfort because, in addition to it taking hard work and dedication, greatness mostly means being uncomfortable. It means stepping outside of your normal comfort zone to stand up for something that matters. Whereas the ends of comfort are merely food, sleep, and leisure, greatness is so much more than that. It’s about making sacrifices for and believing in something greater than yourself. We are all called to be great.

So how are you going to answer the call?

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness”
-Pope Benedict XVI

The Untitled Post

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I can’t think of a title for this blog post.

I’ve tried.

And I’ve tried.

….And I’ve tried.

But I just can’t think of a title.

Now, normally I don’t really care.  I’ll title it at the end because, let’s be honest, I’ve got no idea where I’m going with this anyway!

And that was fine, until….

I am reading this book for my screenwriting class.  It’s called Save The Cat.  (…I know.  Talk about titles that grab your attention, right?).  Anyway, one of the first pieces of advice it gives is to know the one-line description of your movie AND YOUR TITLE before even beginning to write the “FADE IN” on page 1.  And apparently, as everybody knows, a good title is also supposed to be a mini description of what the movie is.  Or as he puts it, “It says what it is”.  (i.e. Legally Blonde)

In the book, he says that titling your movie and knowing the one-line description before you start writing are good because knowing these things will help sell your movie.  If you can’t boil your story down to something that engages people with one line, or if the title of it is too vague for the audience to get an idea of what it is, then no one will care.  More importantly, it’s indicative of the fact that you don’t know your story well enough, because you can’t just “say what it is”.

So forget movies and blog posts.  This got me thinking about life.

What would the title of my life be?  What would the one-line description of my life be?  What is my story?

And what if I approached my life like I sometimes approach my blog posts? …

I’ll title it at the end because, let’s be honest, I’ve got no idea where I’m going with this anyway!

Yikes.

Okay, maybe a little accurate though.

So what would the title of my life be?  I think it’s something worth thinking about.  And by virtue of that, it’s even something to pray about— because I know I’m not writing this story alone (it would be a lot less funny and more predictable if I was).

I don’t think we should have no idea where we’re going in our lives.  We may not know exactly how our lives are going to turn out; we may not know every twist and turn our lives will take.  But if we knew the titles of our stories, we’d always have those to look to.  When we get confused in writing the stories of our lives, we’d remember the title and think, “oh yeah, that’s who I am.  I gotta get back to that because I’ve veered off track”.

Having a title for our life story gives us a reference point, a beacon.  When we get lost in the darkness, knowing what our story is supposed to be is the light that leads us home.